VARI*LITE is One of the Gang
VL3000 Spot Luminaire Highlighted on Rascal Flatts Tour
Published Monday, June 5, 2006
by Bryan Matthews

As the hottest selling country music group in the industry today navigates their way across the United States, the Me & My Gang tour is filling venues at every stop. Growing from their small hometown roots in Ohio and Oklahoma, into a multi-award winning chart buster, Rascal Flatts has experienced a tremendous rise in expectations for their now sold-out touring production. To design and control the lighting for this high-energy show, Rascal Flatts has enlisted the talents of Andy Knighton. And to bring the lighting design to life, Knighton chose the VL3000™ Spot Luminaire.

"Everything about this tour is unique and it completely breaks away from the standard concepts," stated Knighton. "When I first saw the set, I thought, where do you put the lighting rig. But they gave me carte blanche in the design and four full days of programming."

With a complete lighting package supplied by Bandit Lites, Knighton began to envision his ideas for the show, "I basically put as much lighting into the design as I possibly could, and then I began to pair it down into the design that I really wanted."

Knighton continued, "The more I looked at it, the thought of the Statue of Liberty spikes popped into my head, and I wanted to keep it simple and clean in a straight-line concept. In this design we have a lot of imagery with the OLite video wall and the D7 video tiles, so to go with an abstract lighting design would be too much. And that’s why I decided to keep it in a straight-line design."

In order to achieve his straight-line concept, Knighton knew that he needed an automated luminaire with an exceptional hard edge that could execute his design. For this, he chose the VL3000™ Spot Luminaire.

"I am using 32 VL3000 spots throughout the design. They are in the center to frame the large video screen, and then on stage right and stage left to light both the band and the audience. With 75 percent of the lighting rig off the stage, I can sweep in at anytime. So now I have ‘light fingers’ 23 feet long shooting out into the audience just over the proscenium stage. I know this band well enough to understand that is where they will spend the majority of their time, so my concept was to light up the two stages. I can put the outside luminaires into the audience and keep my center luminaires on the band. It turned out perfect."

The VARI*LITE® VL3000 Spot luminaire features a 1200-watt lamp that provides the fixture with unparalleled brightness. It also features CYM color mixing, a separate fixed color wheel, variable CTO, high-performance dimmer and strobe mechanisms, a beam-size iris, two rotating gobo wheels, a rotating effects wheel, and an incredible 6:1 zoom range unmatched in the automated lighting industry.

Knighton continued, "The VARI*LITE horsepower was needed to keep the stage alive, because it gives the audience complementary visual elements around the video elements. The VL3000 spots framing in the video screen give it a killer picture with eye candy all around it. And as I move the fixtures, it appears as if the screen is moving too. Plus, I can paint the entire stage, and the audience, to make it appear as if they are all moving. All this is due to the horsepower."

With an abundance of both conventional and automated lighting instruments at a lighting designers disposal, they are now offered the convenience of selecting the exact instrument required to accentuate, or complete, their design.

"I chose the VL3000 spot to be my dominant automated light because you just can’t beat it. I love the horsepower and the optics. You can load them up with any gobo, standard or customized, and no matter what the situation, I get a true color beam all throughout the lamp life. Then on top of that, the zoom from a single light can cover an entire stage, or it can zoom down to just one person. It’s simply fantastic."

Knighton first joined Rascal Flatts in 2003 on their first headlining tour. "In 2000, Rascal Flatts was the opening act for Jo Dee Messina, while I was doing her lighting design. So when they asked me to join them in 2003, I literally walked off of the Jo Dee Messina tour bus, and onto the Rascal Flatts tour. Once on, I sat in the back of the bus and began the programming for the first show."

The Me & My Gang tour kicked off on February 2, 2006, and will have its final performance on September 16, 2006, at the Alltel Pavilion in Raleigh, North Carolina. For this 8-month tour, the lighting instruments will be loaded, unloaded, hung and focused over one hundred times. And in order to keep the performances running at an optimum level, they must be able to respond to the rigors of the tour.

Knighton concluded, "The VL3000 spots are easy to transport, easy to hang, easy to maintain, and are consistent with their outstanding performance. We honestly couldn’t be happier, unless we had more."

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